Melissa provides legal and programmatic guidance to the Immigrant Protection Unit’s team in all areas of the unit’s wide-ranging practice. She began her career at NYLAG in 2008, serving for over seven years as a Staff Attorney and Supervising Attorney in IPU. In those roles, Melissa worked on a wide range of immigration matters, including removal defense, asylum, and relief for survivors of violence. During that period, Melissa also worked NYLAG’s Special Litigation Unit in filing federal challenges in immigration cases, including Tsamcho v. Napolitano, and served on Judge Katzmann’s New York Immigrant Representation Study Group, contributing to the Group’s 2011 report, Accessing Justice: The Availability and Adequacy of Counsel in Removal Proceedings. In 2015, Melissa joined the International Rescue Committee as the Director of Immigration, where she was responsible for developing agency-wide policies and practices on immigration and supervising the oversight of immigration field staff in the IRC’s 24 field offices. Melissa later served as an Adjunct Professor at Cardozo Law School, where she taught the course on Immigration Law. Melissa rejoined NYLAG in 2019.
Following law school, Melissa spent three years as a litigation associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, handling a range of complex commercial litigation and pro bono matters, including detained and non-detained asylum cases. Melissa received her J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center, where she also received a certificate in Refugee and Immigration Law, and her B.A., magna cum laude, from Colgate University.